Founder Resource: The Art of Attracting Investors

Key Takeaways from our AMA with SoCal Angel Investors

Photo courtesy of Tim Gouw (

Securing funding for your startup is a delicate dance where the right moves can make all the difference. The recent Angel Investor AMA hosted by the Alliance for SoCal Innovation, featuring speakers from TiE SoCal Angels, Tech Coast Angels, and Pasadena Angels, revealed insider tips and valuable advice for those seeking the attention of investors. Let’s dive into the thought-provoking insights and practical guidance.

Finding the Perfect Investor Match
The journey to successful funding begins with connecting with the right investors. Eric Eide, managing director of the Alliance for SoCal Innovation highlighted the SoCal Venture Pipeline program’s efforts to pair startups with investors based on investment thesis and preferred check size. Ashish Saboo from TiE SoCal Angels shared how their deal flow platform exposes startups to 24 chapters, increasing the likelihood of finding an ideal investor.

Leveraging Free Money and Staying Realistic
Lucas Pols from Tech Coast Angels encouraged startups to take advantage of grants and other resources to build their minimum viable product (MVP). The speakers also urged startups to remain grounded in reality, avoiding “moonshots” and being prepared to answer questions about their product and market focus.

The Power of Traction and Tangible Results
Demonstrating traction and tangible outcomes can make a world of difference in attracting investors. Pols noted that even a simple Squarespace website and a small investment in marketing could yield a pre-order list that speaks volumes to potential investors. Saboo added that startups should be able to extrapolate revenue projections based on market and share expectations.

Market Focus and the Art of Expansion
The speakers emphasized the importance of identifying a beachhead market and devising a clear expansion plan. Pols advised startups to concentrate on one specific aspect and branch out as they progress. He also highlighted storytelling’s crucial role in pitching, allowing entrepreneurs to communicate their plans to investors effectively.

Showcase Your Team and Their Expertise
Dave De Csepel of Pasadena Angels shared valuable advice: “Don’t hide your key team members. If you’re coming to us and have a pitch scheduled, if your product is unique technology-wise, bring your CTO. If you’re about to embark upon your sales efforts, everything is all built. Bring your chief salesperson because we’re kind of wary of entrepreneurs that think, ‘I am the source; I can do this all.’ And we want to see the team and even if that means they’re represented, whether it’s the Zoom call or in person.”

Addressing Common Startup Concerns
When asked whether startups should focus on one specific thing or cover a vast range of possibilities, the speakers advised concentrating on a particular market and having a clear expansion plan. Saboo also emphasized the importance of communicating that plan effectively to investors. Regarding the sweet spot for fundraising, Saboo mentioned that their check size ranged from $50,000 to half a million, depending on the market and traction. He encouraged startups to research comparable companies and engage with multiple investors to avoid off-putting investors with unrealistic valuations.

In Conclusion

The Angel Investor AMA illuminated the path to successful funding with invaluable advice and practical guidance. As you embark on your startup journey, remember to find the right investor match, remain realistic about your product and market focus, demonstrate traction and actual results, and develop a clear expansion plan. Armed with these insights and the art of persuasive pitching, you’ll be well on your way to capturing the attention and support of your startup’s investors. Good luck!